Friday, April 29, 2011

Stitch n' Pitch

Stitch N' Pitch is coming to Vermont!

Spring is here and that means baseball is in the air. Just today a customer came into the shop to get materials for all the projects she has planned to finish during the upcoming baseball season. She knits while watching the games on television and had quite a successful run of finished objects to show for the 2010 season.

Well 2011 has something in store for all of us here in Vermont! The Vermont Lake Monsters will be hosting a Stitch N 'Pitch (SM) event in Burlington, Vermont on Friday, June 24th!

Stitch N' Pitch events have been held throughout the country for a number of years. These events invite folks who enjoy a variety of needle arts to come to watch a baseball game in the company of other enthusiasts. And yes folks it is a great time to knit, crochet, embroider, cross-stitch, and more so be sure to bring along your latest project!

We are so excited that a Vermont team is participating this year... so we're giving away 18 tickets to the game on June 24th. We will be raffling these tickets to all customers who make purchases in the shop. Every time you make a purchase you get to enter your name into the drawing.

Here's how it works. We'll be drawing 2 lucky winners after the shop closes on the last day of April. Then we'll empty our drawing jar and start collecting names for the May drawing. At the close of business May 31st we'll draw 3 lucky winners from the May entries. Then we'll empty the drawing jar again and start collecting names for the June drawing. After the shop closes on June 22nd (just a few days before the big game) we'll draw 4 more winners in our final drawing.

We're going to award the tickets in pairs so that if you are a lucky winner you can take your favorite knitter or crocheter along with you. That's 9 winners and 18 tickets! Don't forget that each time you make a purchase you can enter to win a pair of tickets and each month we begin a new drawing.

This event is going to be a great chance to sit among friends, family and colleagues and cheer on your favorite baseball team. Be sure to purchase tickets in the reserved protected seating section set aside for the event. (The tickets we're giving away are reserved in this section!)

We can't wait to see you at the game!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spicy Flirt Skirt for Summer Fun

We featured a spectacular knitted skirt in one of our Manic-In Monday posts a while back. The Tilli Tomas Spicy Flirt Skirt is still getting rave reviews from customers. Recently a very creative customer come up with a wonderful idea for yarn substitutions for this skirt. She suggested knitting the background stockinette portion of this skirt in a solid color of Tahki Cotton Classic and using the bright and fun Berroco Origami for the lace overlay portion and the ruffles. Think summer style at the beach!

I love playing with color combinations so I jumped in to help our customer with options. We went with this one:
Cotton Classic in color Light Mauve with Origami Vacay Pink
and Sangria. But we liked this combo too: Cotton Classic in color Light Mauve with Origami Vacay Pink and Party by the Shore. Since I'm not a big fan of pink, I put together a couple more combinations that I liked. Like this one: Cotton Classic in color Dark Celery with Origami Bay of Biscay and Whale Whach. And this one: Cotton Classic in color Dark Celery with Origami Turtle Bay and Lemon Freeze. We have so many color options in Cotton Classic that the combos are endless! We loved this substitution idea from our customer, and we hope we get to see the finished project!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Got Questions? We Got Answers!

Today's question is one we get every day... from folks in the shop, from folks on the phone, and from folks in emails. I think people just want to know what we like to knit!

What is your favorite thing to knit and why?

I love hats. They are quick and portable, but offer endless possibilities. Whether it’s chunky or fine gauge, Fair Isle or cabled, roll brim, or earflap, they are a great way to show off your personal style, while still keeping you warm! Recently, I can’t stop knitting Fair Isle tams using a dark merino dk along with some Noro Silk Garden. The result has an almost stained glass effect that I adore.

My favorite thing to knit changes about as often as my favorite color yarn to knit with. I do like to knit hats because I can choose patterns that explore a new knitting technique each time I knit a new hat. Hats are smaller projects and so they are a good way for me to learn something new and practice that new skill just enough to remember it for later use in a larger or more complicated project. At the same time smaller projects like this allow me to knit and experiment with many more different yarns and fibers. Besides – my friends are always happy to have a hand knit hat!

My favorite item to knit would be a shawl or scarf - like the Deirdre Shawl or the Firefly Scarf.. I get hot often, so I don't wear as many sweaters these days. Shawls and scarves are so versatile, and can completely change the look of your outfit. They are also great projects for me right now, because I am so busy these days that I like a project I can pick up and put down without struggling to figure out where I am in the pattern.

It really depends on what sort of a mood I am in. I’m currently obsessed with knitting sweaters in sport or DK weight yarns (worsteds and heavier tend to be too heavy for me to wear). The next sweaters in my queue are Nespelem by Norah Gaughan (I’m using Louisa Harding Aimee yarn) and Jidai, because I’m totally in love with stripes at the moment (I am torn between using the Berroco Vintage DK and maybe Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy).

For quite a while I knitted nothing but socks. I always love socks because they are small, portable, and allow me to indulge my love for knitting more intricately cabled patterns (I overheat at the drop of a hat, and so cabled sweaters are sadly outside the realm of wearability for me). I also love to keep a sock on the needles that uses the Yankee Knitter Classic Socks for the Family pattern. After you’ve made a few pairs from this pattern, it really does become one of those projects that you can keep with you to knit when you don’t want to think too much about what you’re doing.

My favorite projects are sweaters. When we get new patterns and new yarns, I love to pick out my next projects. It’s a great feeling to finish a project and then be able to wear it.

I also enjoy knitting children’s sweater with intarsia patterns in them like the Roo Designs patterns. I always made sweaters for my sons when they were small. Sometimes they would help me pick out the patterns. Now that they are older they have been asking me to knit them sweaters. It just takes more time since they're grown, but it's worth it to have them enjoy wearing hand knit sweaters made by me.

I totally gravitate toward smaller projects that are super quick to finish. I used to love intricate sweater patterns with lots of texture, colorwork, cables... but now I'm more of an instant gratification knitter. I love to make hats, baby sweaters, quick baby blankets, scarves, vests... anything that is fast.

I do really want to make the Gaia sweater that Berroco featured as their free KnitBits pattern last Friday. And although it's technically NOT a small project, I think that it would go really quickly (short sleeves & fast knitting Remix yarn!) so I may just sneak this one in! The new fall 2011 colors of Remix are beautiful, but they are not going to be in stock until the end of May, so I might have to delay this project just a bit. (That's the downside of seeing fall yarns so early... you fall in love with new colors and then have to wait.)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Free on Friday (ok, on Saturday!)

Here's an awesome free pattern that Berroco shared yesterday. It uses Berroco Remix, one of our favorite yarns.

We love it! And we hope you do too.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

And the knitting's sublime...

So it's vacation week here in Vermont. And it's been windy, grey, rainy and snowy. Brrr! But that means it's been great knitting weather.

I'm not in the office this week - we have some big projects going on at home - including a major clean out of the house, basement and garage. We've lived here for more than 16 years, and even though we clean out often, there's always stuff you can get rid of. It's a great lesson in learning to live with less.

I don't have much time to knit this week, so when I was scrambling last Friday to pick up a new
project before leaving the shop, my co-workers laughed at me. They said, "You'll never have time to knit that!" But luckily, before the major clean out started on Sunday morning, I DID have time to do some knitting.

I started and finished this adorable baby hat in
Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK.
It's in the new Eighth Little Sublime Handknit book and I just love the shape!

I also was in the mood for colorwork, since Barb recently completed her headband for the upcoming class. I'm not great at knitting with 2 colors at the same time and I wanted a project that would strengthen my "picking" ability.
I love the hat, and loved the pattern. Here's my finished hat:There were two things I didn't like about the pattern, though. It's knit back and forth, which meant I had a number of rows that were on the purl side involving 2 colors. I'm quick to admit that I am terrible at picking and throwing (at the same time) while purling. So I need work there.

The other thing I did not like was that the pattern was that in many cases, you would use a color and then not need it again until an odd row, meaning you had to cut the yarn and start it again, when it was next needed. Ick. This meant TONS of ends to weave in, and I found that a bit frustrating.

Oh well, the end result is still precious. I love the colors I chose!
And since I had to use 5 colors for the hat, I have a lot left, so I am making up a few of the booties from some of the Sublime baby books. They're quick to make and super cute.

I also made a Bovva bootie from The Second Little Sublime Handknit Book #606:And next up is a Little Pump from The Sixth Little Sublime Handknit Book #634.
This is their image - I haven't decided which of my five colors I will be using...

And really, the yarn is just so luscious, that I'm not ready to part with it... just yet. So I may have to keep finding more ways to use up these scraps.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Manic-In Monday

It's official! Spring break has started in these parts... and our gal must have some big travel plans. Anyone sense a safari, or something like that? She's definitely ready for an action packed trip with a flattering (and fun to knit!) vest, a hot shawl pin and a versatile bag. Vest: Desert Vest knit with Rowan Savannah yarn. Pattern is in the Rowan Savannah Pattern Book. Desert Tank Shawl
Pin: Bamboo Leaf Coconut shawl pin
Bag: Lantern Moon Swing Bucket Bag in Black/Tan colorway

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Rainbow Sweater Club

Our customer Linda H. stopped in the shop the other day to share a wonderful picture.

A while ago we shared her first rainbow sweater with you. Did you know this sweater was just one in a series of rainbow sweaters? Here are Delaney, Ceilidh, and Katelyn, proud members of the Rainbow Sweater Club!
They've also got on matching strawberry hats!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Got Questions? We Got Answers!

Today's question is a good one... especially with Mother's Day coming up!

If you received a $50 Gift Certificate to Kyarns today, what would you buy and why?

This is a really tough choice! I think of gift cards as an opportunity to splurge and try out something new that I might not automatically buy for myself. Maybe I would try a new and scrumptious novelty yarn, like almost anything in the Tilli Tomas line. Or perhaps I would put together a project I have never tried before, like a lace shawl pattern and some yummy Koigu yarn.

I just purchased a pair of the Gingher Classic 4 inch Embroidery Scissors for a friend... but I have wanted a pair of these for myself for a long time! These Embroidery Scissors are for a serious knitters because they are very pointy and made to last a lifetime... high quality and destined to become an heirloom. Of course there is also that skein of sport weight Jade Sapphire 4-ply cashmere in the color Thunderstorm that I have been thinking of knitting into the Driftwood Hat pattern for myself since last winter but just haven’t brought myself to take home yet…. It is so difficult to decide!

If I received a gift certificate I would purchase Berroco Blackstone Tweed Chunky and Berroco Book #298 to make the Dickens vest. This vest looks great on everyone and would be perfect for me because I am just too hot in a sweater. I would want to make an item that I would have for awhile, then when I wear it I could remember the person who gave me the gift certificate. I know when I purchase a gift for someone I always try to pick something they would not want to splurge on, it makes it extra special.

I have had my eye on some Noro Kochoran. I already have a pattern for it, but just can’t figure out which color to pick! There is also the new Malabrigo Angora... I've been waiting for that yarn for months and it's finally here!

I would get the Lantern Moon Compact Zippered Case for double pointed needles, since I just got a whole set of new dpns and I feel like splurging on a new case to house them! I'd have some money left, and so I would also get a Walker Bags Triple Hole Yarn Case. I know that I went over the $50 amount by a bit, but I've really been itching to do some fair isle work with the Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport and this yarn case would be perfect! It's worth dipping into my own wallet for a bit of that!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sign up for Our Upcoming Tunisian Tour!

Ok, we aren't scheduling an actual sight-seeing tour of Tunisia. But we ARE offering a chance to explore the basics of Tunisian Crochet techniques all from the cozy comfort of our shop classroom.

You may remember this amazing bag that Barb whipped up for us a couple of weeks ago.
We've had lots of interest in this bag, so Barb's going to share the skills. So step right up and join us for this excellent Tunisian crochet adventure!

One skein project... Noro Taiyo Sock yarn, in a shawl

For the past week, it's just been me, my Addi Lace needles and a lonely ball of Noro Taiyo Sock. Since our customers just LOVE a one skein project, I thought I'd whip one up.

This project has been great... short, speedy rows at first, giving way to longer, but still manageable rows, and more recently, very long and seemingly endless rows. I'm making a basic shawl in stockinette with some YO increases and I'm letting the Taiyo Sock yarn do the all the talking.

I think it has a lot to say:It's gorgeous! The other day I finished my last 2 rows and the bind off, and today it's blocking into perfection.
The colors are amazing and the size is too. Not too skimpy, not too long. It measures 52" wide by 27" deep (at longest point.) Yum!

Want to make one? I used a size 6 needle and 1 skein of Noro Taiyo Sock yarn. I followed the instructions for the Boneyard Shawl, but worked the whole thing in stockinette with YO increases. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Website Problems... we're working on it!

Sorry folks, we are having some minor issues with our website this morning. We totally understand how frustrating this can be for you, our customers! And believe me when I say... it's even worse for us!

What's wrong? Well, in addition to images showing up with no pictures, some items (like videos!) are showing up as available for purchase (when you know they're really just for your viewing pleasure!) Also a number of links are broken, and when you click on them, you will be bounced to the home page. So, yeah... total weirdness.

We're sorry! We're working on it like crazy on this end... and hope you will be patient and maybe save your browsing for a little later in the day.

Upcoming Class - Learn to Knit a Hat

This winter, Jill's Rasta hat was a fun and bright addition to our slew of shop samples.This project is a quick knit and so it's the PERFECT project for anyone who wants to learn how to knit a hat in the round. Knitting with the super bulky merino wool is a treat too! (By the way we have the Malabrigo Rasta yarn back in stock for those of you who missed it a couple of months ago.)

Our first hat class filled so quickly last session, that we decided to offer it again. So if you are hat-challenged, grab your adventurous knitting spirit and sign up for the
Knitting Your First Hat class to learn this new skill.

Stop by the shop to choose a color of this bold and beautiful yarn. In class you'll be joining to knit in the round on circular needles as well as transferring the stitches to double pointed needles to finish up. Both are great things to add to your bag of tricks if you don't already know how to do them. And if pom-poms don't float your boat, we'll be sure to show you how to add a tassle instead.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Knittin' Mittens

I've been working with customer Josie B. for a couple of weeks on mitten knitting techniques. We've been meeting weekly for our 'mitten class' and tackle different parts each time, work out the bugs, fix mistakes, you name it and we work on it all in the context of the perfect mitten.

Josie is working her way through all the Manos Maxima
colors and recently moved on to experimenting with the Malabrigo Rios colors. She's going to have a riot of colorful mittens and they're all beautiful!

To get ready for our upcoming mitten class (that's right - spring classes are posted!) I began working on some mittens myself. I like to have a finished mitten and one in progress
so that I can demonstrate during class.

After working up the mitten for class using worsted weight yarn things seemed to spiral a bit out of control... I have mitten mania now! The mitten for class is shown here underneath my hand in the
photo. And it fits great!I was having so much fun with mittens that I decided to work up a pair of felted mittens using the Snow Country Felt Mittens pattern. And the finished pair (before felting!) is pretty amusing. I now refer to the them as the 'hulk' mittens. Michelle made me pose. I think I better felt these before something dangerous happens.

Who's grouchy?

Dyanne Jaenz just sent in an awesome hat for Hats for Hunger... and we got Shawn to model it yesterday! She even went into shipping to spook Michele and Chrissy. Because of course, they were NOT expecting to see anyone looking THIS: It's Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street! At first we thought it was Cookie Monster (because we're always thinking about food) but then remembered that Cookie Monster is blue. Clearly we haven't watched that show in a while! The hat is adorable. Thanks Dyanne!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Happy B-day to Barb!

We enjoyed a yummy birthday fruit tart for Barb today, in celebration of her birthday. It was so beautiful (thanks Chef's Corner!) that we had to share a photo. Sorry we couldn't share in person, but we made pretty quick work of it... Happy Birthday Barb!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Got questions? We've got answers!

Driving into work the other day, I had a new idea for a blog series...

What if we took some of the questions we get on a daily basis - the ones that don't have "right" or "wrong" answers, but are more asking for opinions - and posted them here, along with answers? And not just my answer, but the answers of a number of folks who are working in the shop that day?
We're all VERY different people, and so our opinions can - and most likely will! - vary greatly. I think it will be a great resource on the products we sell, our experience using those products, and heck, you'll even get to know each of us a little better!

So here goes...

Do you have any needle sets now? Why did you choose that particular one? I'm looking at buying an interchangeable circular knitting needle set. Which one would you recommend and why?

I currently have the Knit Picks Harmony Wood circular set. I love knitting with wood and bamboo needles, but I often find that the tips are too blunt. I bought the Harmony Wood needles because they are nice and pointy, and the wood is lovely and smooth.

(MY PERSONAL TIP FOR BLUNT WOOD NEEDLES: if your needle tips are too blunt or are getting snaggy, sand them with very fine sandpaper, and then polish them with a piece of wax paper – the wax paper fills in any of those tiny cracks that can snag your yarn).

If I could purchase a new set today, I would get the Lantern Moon Rosewood needle set, without a moment’s hesitation. I have a couple of sets of the Sox Sticks double pointed needles at home in the rosewood, and it is hands down the best material I have ever knitted with. I love the feel of the wood: its smoothness, its weight, its durability. Such a wonderful treat to work with!

I would also like to own the Addi Turbo Click set. I don’t often knit with metal needles, because I find that metal fatigues my hands a lot quicker than the more flexible wood does. But there are times that knitting with metal is the only way to go – I’m lookin’ at you, cotton yarns!

The only needle set I currently own is a Knit Picks Harmony Wood double pointed needle set for socks. I bought it because I prefer the shorter 6” length over the standard 7.5-8” length of double pointed needle. I do not like metal double points at all as they tend to slip out of the knitting. The Harmony set is also really pretty! And it comes in a handy case.

If I were to purchase another set I would choose the HiyaHiya metal set with the 5” tips. These have a smooth cord join and I prefer a metal needle.
I find the 4” tips a little uncomfortable to hold in my hands, so I would rather have the 5” tips. My hands are large and I find the 4" tips cut into the side of my palm. I prefer the Hiya Hiya as they do have the cables to make a 16/18” needle. I'm excited because we always carried the set with the 4" tips, but just last week added the set with the 5" tips, and it's exactly what I've been wanting.

I own a Denise Interchangeable Knitting Needle Set, and I love it! All of the tips and cords store neatly in the boxed set, and fit perfectly on my bookshelf with all of my knitting books. The case is designed very nicely, and works well as long as you put the needles and cords back where they belong. (This is not something I am good at though!) I bought them because even though I normally knit with Addi Turbo circular needles, I needed a good set for travel. The Denise set is reasonably priced, and I like that the tips are pointy. I always hated plastic needles (still do!) but honestly, the Denise plastic needles don't even feel like plastic needles to me. I find they are slick enough to use with all yarns, and grippy enough to use with slippery yarns. Best of both worlds... now I just have to remember to put them back.

I have been looking for another set for some time, but haven't found a set that satisfies ALL of my needs. I wanted to get the Addi Turbo Click set, but was disappointed that it did not have an option for a 16" cable. I like the pointy tips on the Addi Lace Click set, but like Barb, a 4" needle tip drives me bonkers! It hurts my hands too much, so I couldn't get that one.

So, I just splurged and bought a Lantern Moon Rosewood set... and it's delicious! The wood is so lovely and soft, the tips are just pointy enough, the cables are flexible, the joins swivel, and the case is beautiful. I think I'm in heaven!

I don't currently own a needle set. I started to collect the Addi Turbo needles 9 years ago before we had such a great selection of needle kits here at the shop.

If I were to purchase a set, I would of course want the Addi Click set. Addi's are truly my favorite needles to knit with. The set is also a really good deal for the amount of needle options you get versus buying them individually. The only dislike I can think of is the fact that there is not a 16” cable. My other choice would be the Knit picks Harmony Circular set. The price is reasonable and I love the colors of the birch. I just haven’t had a chance to try them yet!

Meet Senior Designers, Caleb and Newt

We've posted about our amazing 'custom' knitter Janet before. Each year her grandson, Caleb, designs a sweater, and Janet faithfully produces what he has designed in a yearly sweater installment. And each year we marvel at her process as she periodically comes in to consult with one or more of our staff.

This year we discussed the options of intarsia colorwork or duplicate stitching the details for Caleb's 7th grade sweater, which has a wildcat design.
This year Caleb's sweater has a different front and back! The wildcat is duplicate stitched onto the back. I remember brainstorming with Janet about the best way to transfer the image onto the sweater. She had looked into knitters graph paper but was having trouble getting it to work - possibly because of a finicky printer setting. (Be careful that the printer doesn't re-size your image when printing as this will distort the graph paper ratio!)

Not only did she knit the wildcat design for Caleb, but she has begun the same tradition with another grandson, Newt. Isn't it the cutest dinosaur sweater?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Manic-In Monday

It's a very rainy April day here in Vermont. We're not complaining though - at least it's not white... yet.

Our gal isn't letting the weather get her down. She figures that adding a little bit of "bling" to her outfit will raise her spirits. The yarn that her sweater is knit with is a comfortable cotton blend which softly glitters! And even though it's not total short sleeve weather yet, she's baring her arms a bit with these short sleeves. She's got a beautiful shawl around her neck in case she feels chilled by that deep V neck.Sweater: Taana Cardigan sweater knit in Berroco Glint yarn from Berroco Book #306 Glint
Shawl: Deirdre Shawl (free pattern on ravelry!) knit in Ella Rae Lace Merino

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Tammy strikes again

So Tammy stopped in to the shop the other day with more felted mittens. She's got to stop DOING this to us! We are in love with her two new mitts - check out these birds:Have you ever seen anything like it? Someone's got some artistic talent... and it's not ME!
she also brought in this mitt to show us how beautiful the Malabrigo Rios cuff looks.
It's colorful, soft and cozy.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Change is good, especially when you are in charge of it!

When following a pattern, listen to your gut! If you think something should be done differently (for whatever reason) go for it. Sometimes your finished project will thank you!

I just made the Minnowknits Daisy Dress #238.As I knit this dress, I came across a few things that I felt should be done differently. So I changed them! I had a valid reason for making each change, and I thought I'd share them with you:
  1. The pattern has a hem which is folded up and seamed to the inside of the skirt. It asks for you to use the same size needle for the hem as you use for the rest of the dress. In my book, this is a huge NO-NO. I always go down one size needle when making a hem. I find that if you use the same needle size and the same number of stitches, it can really flare!
  2. The pattern calls for you to work the hem back and forth in stockinette stitch, work a turning ridge, and THEN join your stitches into a round. That confused me! Sometimes people work a row or two before joining, to help in not twisting the join. But to work 7 rows, then a turning ridge and THEN join? No way. There would be an extra little side seam in the hem, and I thought that was messy. I recommend that you join your stitches immediately after your cast on, so you have a smooth and clean hem inside the skirt.
  3. The I-cord flowers on the bottom of the dress are so cute! But the pattern calls for you to make a 2 stitch I-cord. My 2 stitch I-cord tension is not the greatest - no matter how hard I try, it seems to get all twisted looking. I'm much better with a 3 stitch I-cord, so that's what I went with instead.
  4. The pattern calls for you to make 8 daisy I-cord flowers for the bottom of the skirt. My daisies were a bit beefier because of the 3 stitch I-cord, but even so... I think 8 daisies is overkill. I opted for three, and put them just on the front of the dress.
  5. The last change I SHOULD have made (but didn't!) is on the armhole shaping. You are supposed to knit for one inch (after dividing for the front and back) and then bind off two stitches at the beginning of the next two rows. Then decrease 1 stitch at each end of the next RS row. I was in total relax vacation mode CLEARLY, because I normally would have caught this. The pattern SHOULD have called for decreasing 1 stitches at each end of the next RS row, THREE TIMES. This would have made a much nicer armhole edge. I didn't catch it until I was crocheting around the finished armholes, and honestly, it drives me crazy! Oh well. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
I will say, this dress was the talk of my Jet Blue flight from Sarasota, FL to JFK on Tuesday. I had finished the dress and was making and attaching the flowers. I got MORE compliments as people walked back and forth past my aisle seat... I think it's the daisies!